ON THIS DAY – June 14, 1913


Few more remarkable cases have come before the Criminal Court than that which was heard in Melbourne on June 14, when Elizabeth Louisa Barry, aged 28 years, an employee in a tearoom in “The Block,” and Clarice Cowell, aged 20, a saleswoman at Cole’s Book Arcade, were charged before Mr. Dwyer, P.M., at the City Court, with having conspired to murder Florence May Ring. Mrs. King, Who lives at Ascotvale, and who is the wife of a clerk in the parcels office, at Flinders street station, when interviewed on the previous day, told an extraordinary story. “On Saturday night, June 7,” she said, “a strange woman knocked at my front door, and explained that she had brought a parcel for me from my husband’s sister. I took her inside, and the parcel contained blouses for myself and a jumper for my little baby, Bruce. She complained of not having had any tea, though it was after 8 o’clock at night. My little, boy jumped out of bed and ran into the dining room to us. The woman at once declared that she did not like children. I then took her into the breakfast-room, and set the table to give her some tea. My little boy meanwhile played about the house. She gave him a date cream, but he did not eat it. She begged me to join her in the tea, and I poured myself out a cup. When I did this she looked at Bruce and said, ‘It’s time you were in bed.’ I took the hint, and carried him into his room, being only away from the woman for a few minutes. “When I returned she was still eating, and, on sitting down at the table again, “I noticed that my tea, which did not contain milk, had a peculiar scum floating on the top of it.” I sipped it, “and remarked, “What a horrible bitter taste this tea has.’ I noticed a peculiar pink powder around the cup on the tray cloth, and I at once be came suspicious. This, with the bitter taste of the tea, prompted me not to touch it, and when the woman went away, soon afterwards, I left it on the table just as it was until my husband came home from work. I then told him of my suspicions. On the Monday following my husband took the powder to the Government analyst, who stated that it contained enough strychnine to poison ten men. “On Tuesday I went to Cole’s Book Arcade, and asked for a young-woman assistant there, and when she came I said to her, ‘I am not dead yet.’ She said, ‘I don’t understand you.’ I replied, ‘No; but you will before long.’ Then I went to the Detective Office, and told them exactly what I am saying now. “I have only one woman enemy in the world, and she will be so until I die. About six weeks ago Cowell came to the house, and almost banged the front door in. When I went to the front she was standing with her back to the fence, and, of course, we had a fight. Blows were struck, and the woman fainted. Then my husband said for his sake to bring her inside. I did, and when she recovered we continued the fight in the dining-room. She pulled my hair out, and the silk blouse she was wearing was torn to pieces, and before she was able to leave the place I had to patch it together for her. My husband first met her 12 months ago. He is in a position at the window in the parcels office, where he is meeting strange people all day.” As a result of allegations similar to the above the arrests were made. A distressing scene occurred when the accused women were brought into court. They were weeping hysterically, and their cries could be heard beyond the precincts of the courtroom. Eventually they were both in a state of collapse. Detective Napthine stated that he had obtained a confession from Barry that she had conspired with Cowell to poison Mrs. King. Cowell admitted afterwards to him that this was true. She told the detective that King had ruined her, and had absolutely broken her heart.  A remand was granted till June 20, and the women were then sent to the gaol hospital for treatment.

ON THIS DAY – May 15. 1916


As the outcome of a shooting affray at Ironbark, Bendigo on May 15, Adrian Arthur Percy Lakeman, aged 21 years, a pastrycook, was charged at the Bendigo Court today with shooting his stepfather, Arthur James Main, with intent to murder. Main said he had only a hazy recollection of what occurred, as he was mad with drink. Evidence was given by several witnesses that the shots were fired by Lakeman in defence of his mother The accused was discharged.

ON THIS DAY – May 12, 1919



Henry Stokes, was charged with having wounded, with intent to murder, Henry Slater, in Little Collins-Street on May 12, was granted bail by Mr. Justice Hood. Slater is in the Melbourne Hospital as a result of having been shot with a revolver. Bail was refused by the City Court Bench last week, and on the same day an application was made to Mr. Justice Hood, who then declined to grant bail. This afternoon a further application was made, and this was supported by fresh affidavits. Stokes, in an affidavit, stated that immediately after his arrest, he informed the police that he acted in self-defence in an encounter with Slater. Mr. Justice Hood granted bail, which was fixed at the accused’s surety of £L000, and one surety of £1,000, or two of £500 ea. It was made a condition of the bail that the accused should report to the detective office each day.

ON THIS DAY – May 12, 1945



Edward George Carr, 36, of Chilwell, Geelong, labourer, was committed for trial on a charge of having inflicted grievous bodily harm on James George McKenna, of Geelong, on May 12. Carr had originally been charged with having wounded McKenna with intent to murder, but, after hearing evidence, the Bench put him on the lesser charge.

On This Day – May 9th, 1889

On May 9th, 1889, a man named Walter Brooks, an insurance agent, attempted to murder a woman with whom he had been living, named Matilda Thompson, at Earl-street, North Carlton.  Brooks was charged with wilful trespass at the house of Mrs Thompson’s son the week before. He went to gaol, and was liberated on the 8th of May.

On the morning of the 9th of May, he again went to the house of Mrs Thompson’s son, in Earl street, and knocked at the door.  He was refused admittance, and immediately placed a small six chambered revolver at the keyhole and fired two shots. A young woman, named Emily Spooner who was in the house with Mrs Thompson, and on hearing the shot she rushed out the back door. Brooks met her at the door as she was going out, and rushed into the house. Mrs Thompson was in the front room, and Brooks went to where she was and caught her by the neck and threw her across his knees and threatened to blow her brains out, at the same time placing the revolver at her head. At this moment Mrs Liddy, who is the landlady of the house, and Constables Reidy and Lowry, who had been attracted by the sound of the gunshot, arrived on the scene, and Brooks, who was struggling with Mrs Thompson, released her and let her go to answer the door. As soon as the door was opened Mrs Thompson rushed out. Brooks followed her to the door, and on seeing the constables drew back and closed the door.

Almost immediately, another shot was heard, and on the police entering the property, they found the man lying on a bed in the bedroom, with the revolver clutched in his hand, whilst the blood was flowing profusely from his mouth and nose.

In the deceased’s hand was found a portrait of Mrs Thompson, and also a letter in which he stated that he and Mrs Thompson had been living together as man and wife for some time. All was alright until about three weeks ago when she had neglected his children, which were by his late wife, and had then left him. He stated that he loved her better than his soul and intended to murder her and then commit suicide, and prayed that God would assist him to complete it.

On this Day – April 11, 1914


By the train which arrived at Ballarat at 3 o’clock on Tuesday from Linton, James Williams came under escort as a prisoner, charged with the attempted murder at Linton on Monday afternoon of Sarah Bass. He had been brought before Mr. F. Kennedy, J.P., and remanded to appear at Ballarat next Tuesday. Williams was lodged in the Ballarat gaol. Sergeant Rogerson states that Williams told him he came from Bite Bite station, in the Ararat district, some days ago, and, beyond giving his name, refused to say anything further.

It appears that Mr. C. McCook, manager of the Mount Bute estate, near Linton, engaged Williams as a general hand, to start work on Tuesday, but on Monday Williams was required to relieve another member of the staff, who had gone to the races. By direction he drove to Linton and brought the mail in. About a quarter past four, after inquiring of Archibald McCook, 12, and Clarice McCook, 13, son and daughter of the manager, if their parents were at home, and receiving a negative reply, Williams learned from the children that the housekeeper, Sarah Bass, was in the kitchen, and he walked in that direction. Soon after this Williams was seen approaching the men’s hut, from the direction of the homestead. He was holding his head with his hands, saying, “My poor head is splitting.” It was then discovered that Miss Bass was badly cut on the head, and was lying unconscious in the kitchen. Williams was secured and handed over to the police.

To-day (Tuesday) Miss Bass is cheerful, and appears to be out of danger. One wound at the back of her neck is four inches long, and required six stitches to be inserted by Dr. Donaldton. There are four other wounds in the back of the head, three exposing the bone, which was also cut. Miss Bass states that Williams asked her for a drink of hot milk and water as he had heartburn. She supplied him, and he called for a second drink. While he was getting this she saw Williams take down a butcher’s meat chopper from the wall, but she did not guess his purpose. Immediately afterwards she received a blow on the back of the neck, and remembered no more until some time afterwards.


Charged with the attempted murder of Constable Hutchison at Whitfield, North East Victoria, on the 22nd February, Joseph McFarlane, 38, a rabbit trapper was remanded by the City Court, Wangaratta. The prosecuting officer alleged that Constable Hutchison tried to arrest McFarlane, the latter grabbed a gun and shot him in the leg. McFarlane was handcuffed by two men, but managed to escape into the bush and was not seen again until April 28 when he was arrested at Trafalgar. The wounded was still in Wangaratta Base Hospital.

ON THIS DAY – February 18, 1919

A most determined attempt was made on the life of Edward Whiting, an ex pugilist, in the early hours on this day in 1919. No fewer than six revolver bullets were found embedded in his head when he was examined at St Vincent’s Hospital, and only the possession of an exceptionally thick skull saved his life. Whiting refuses to give information to the police regarding the identity of his assailants. He merely states that four or five men were concerned in the affair. He was fired at when lying in bed. A few years earlier a similar attempt was made on his life.


ON THIS DAY – February 12, 1891

Mr Aveson, was charged with the attempted murder of Mr Haware, the the jeweller, at the Davy diggings, on this day in 1891. Aveson after finding his wife in bed with Haware attacked him with a tomahawked. Haware, whoever failed to appear in court, it was believed he has left the colony.. The case against Aveson were withdrawn.



ON THIS DAY ……… 5th February 1936

A remarkable, story of an alleged attempt to poison a Brunswick married couple by sending them a poisoned pudding through the post was related at the Brunswick Court on the 5th February 1896, when Dorothy Davies, married, a needlewoman, of West Brunswick, was charged with the attempted murder of Harry Sumbler, confectioner, of Brunswick, and his wife, Margaret Sumbler. In evidence it was stated that Sumbler and his wife received a pudding by post on the 12th of December. After Mrs Sumbler took a bite she thought it tasted bad and spat it out. A small quantity was given to a kelpie dog, which died within an hour and a half. Expert evidence was given that ground poisoned wheat had been sprinkled over the pudding and that analysis showed that the pudding contained sufficient poison to produce death in an adult. The police produced a statement alleged to have been made by Davies, admitting the crime, in which she said that she had known Sumbler for many years. She used to help him look after his shop and did other work for him. Because there was too much work in the shop he obtained the services of Margaret O’Connor, whom he married last year. Because of the way he treated her and took a fancy to Margaret O’Connor she became aggrieved with both him and her and in December decided to send to Mr and Mrs Sumbler a pudding with something on it to make them sick. She got some poisoned wheat she had for poisoning mice. She ground the wheat into powder, sprinkled it on top of the pudding, and replaced it in the cover. She intended only to make the Sumblers suffer as they had made her suffer. She did not know it would kill anybody. Sumbler told the Court that after his marriage Mrs Davies was aggressive towards him and he told her that it would be best for her to stay away. Once he had an argument with her and she went towards a gun. On numerous occasions she had threatened him, and once she said she would put a bomb on his roof. He denied having proposed to Mrs Davies.



ON THIS DAY ………….. 3rd of February 1913


Henry Dorrington aged 30, was arrested on the 3rd of February 1911, on a charge of having shot with intent to murder his mother, aged 70 years, in Clifton Hill. When the police arrived at the house they found Mrs. Dorrington bleeding from a wound in the fore head, caused by a bullet from a pea-rifle. Dorrington said to his mother, “You asked me to shoot a cat, and the gun went off and shot you” Mrs. Dorrington said “No you asked me for five shillings, and when I would not give it to you, you shot me.” The wound was not serious, and after being treated at the hospital Mrs. Dorrington was allowed to go home.



ON THIS DAY – January 26, 1937


Evidence that she had repulsed the accused when he had tried to kiss her in a cowshed was given by Ida Reynolds, married, of Nilma North, when Jack Evison, aged 44 years, woodcutter, of Nilma North, appeared on a charge of having shot at Mrs. Reynolds on January 26 with intent to murder her. Mrs. Reynolds said that she had known Evison for two and a half years. He had worked for her husband at different times. “About a week before the shooting occurred,” she said, “I was working in the cowshed milking with my husband and Evison. My husband left the shed, and Evison tried to kiss me. He leaned on my shoulder. I objected, and he then put his arm about me, and I smacked him. He said, ‘Don’t split, or I’ll blow your brains out.’ “I told my husband, who discharged him. I saw Evison on January 23 and paid him a cheque at the gate. He asked me whether I was frightened of him, and I replied, ‘You must think I am a calf.’ On January 26 I saw Evison at 8 am. He called out ‘Ida,’ and pointed at something on the road. I went down to investigate. He was at the gate, and I was within eight yards of him. He said, ‘Come here,’ but I took several paces backward, as I became suspicious when I saw nothing on the road. “Evison was bending down and flashed a gun to his shoulder, saying, ‘I am going to shoot you dead.’ I ran to the cow-shed, but had gone only a few yards when I felt a sting in the right forearm and side, and heard the report of a gun. My husband appeared with a pitchfork and ran after Evison. I said, ‘Be careful; he has reloaded.” First-constable Derham said in evidence that he had asked Evison why he had shot Mrs. Reynolds, and Evison had replied, “It had to come to a finish ” Evison pleaded not guilty and reserved his defence. He was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Melbourne, on February 15. Bail was refused.